After years of effort, and despite a last-minute gambit by the outgoing President Bush, US policy for offshore energy development is going back to the drawing board. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Feb. 10, 2009, that he was extending by six months the public comment period on the country's 5-year plan for development of oil and gas offshore, and that other types of offshore energy uses, such as wind, wave, and tidal, are likely to get greater consideration.
- Dept. of Interior, Feb. 10, 2009, press release, and link to Salazar presentation.
As part of the revamped 5-year plan, which covers about 1.7 billion acres — an area about three-fourths the size of the US land mass — there will be presentations and public comment sessions in four locations from early- to mid-April 2009. The sessions are expected to include presentations from public officials and scientists, and public comments from a wide range of interested organizations and individuals.
- April 6, Atlantic City, NJ (Convention Center)
- April 8, New Orleans, LA (Tulane University)
- April 14, Anchorage, AK (Dena'ina Convention Center)
- April 16, San Francisco, CA (Mission Bay Conference Center)
Until Salazar made his announcement, the proposed 5-year plan had been one announced by the Bush administration on its last business day in office, and published in the Federal Register on Jan. 21, 2009, the day after the Obama administration took office. The public comment period for that plan — which relied in part on information that sometimes was 20-30 years old, according to Salazar — was scheduled to end March 23, 2009. That will now extend until Sept. 21, 2009, allowing for more public comment, and for additional information gathering and plan development by the Interior agencies involved, including the Minerals Management Service and the US Geological Survey.
For more background on the 5-year plan, and overall offshore energy development, see:
For additional information and sources on some previous efforts related to offshore energy development, including renewable energy sources, see the TipSheet of Feb. 28, 2007.